Book Interviews, Books, Interviews

Interview: Kendare Blake talks mythology, writing, and more!

Kendare Blake stopped by to answer some exclusive questions. She talks about her book, why she went with Greek gods, the characters in her new book Antigoddess, writing, and more! Without further ado, take it away Kendare!

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13246736For those who are unfamiliar with your work, tell us about Antigoddess in your own words

Antigoddess is a story of a godly war, fought between gods who are no longer immortal. They begin to die strange, painful deaths, each death tied to the god’s particular traits. As they take sides, they seek out weapons that might be of use. One in particular: a reincarnated prophetess who doesn’t have a clue about her past. Antigoddess draws a lot on the Iliad and the Odyssey.

How was it, switching into a different world and leaving the Anna Dressed in blood world behind?

Well, not as sad as you might think, because I wrote Antigoddess in between Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares, so I knew I still had time to spend with Cas & Co. But it was absolutely scary, whenever I paused to think about it. Luckily, the first draft wrote pretty fast, so I didn’t have time to think about it much.

Why greek gods? There are so many ancients out there, what about them appealed to you as a writer?

Not sure exactly. Only that I’ve always been drawn to the story of Troy, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and even a little bit the Aeneid. Okay, not really the Aeneid. I love that the Greek gods were monsters as much as they were gods. I loved that they shared the worst traits with the mortals they ruled over. Their fallibility is so interesting to me.

Was it hard trying to bring something new to stories that are old and familiar?

I don’t know if it was hard, but it was definitely intimidating. They’re gods. They’re characters from old stories. People have seen them before, and have pre-existing opinions/impressions of them. So if something I add is different, or my interpretation is different, it can really throw a reader. Which is the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to keep the gods petty and brutal. Cruel screwups who occasionally do you a favor. I hope I did a decent job balancing the old traditions while still making the characters my own.

Talk to us about Cassandra. She’s such a cool character, modern teen and yet reincarnation of an ancient prophetess. Did you see her first as Cassandra of today, and then add in her ancient parts, so to speak, or, since she’s really the same, did you try and visualize her as the same regardless of the change in millennia?

I saw her today, I think. Cassandra was tough. She was shy. I got the impression she didn’t want to be written about, and her character would have loved nothing more than to be overlooked. Ignored. Left the frick alone. At first, I had this image of her as this sort of mousy, quiet, tragic thing, a character you would pity because of all the crap piled on her over and over. And she sort of was, just…average, under the radar, for a while. Then she started to change. I thought she’d shoulder the burden of what happened and I would wish for her happy ending. Instead she bucked. She bit back. As Athena learns to be more human, Cassandra begins to become less.

kendareThe concept of the gods dying, and the ways that they’re dying, is one of the most fascinating parts of the book (especially Athena’s with the owl feathers. Brilliant!). Take us through the process of developing these ideas. How did you finally decide what the doom for each would be?

That part came pretty organically. The whole novel started because of some visions I had of dying goddesses. I saw Demeter and Artemis first, Demeter stretched taut across the land, dried out skin like a massive drum. Artemis running from beasts, torn apart in her forests. And as each new god showed up, it was very, “Oh, yeah, there you are, wow, look what’s wrong with you!” I never had to decide between two possible deaths. They just were.

Talk to us about your writing styles and habits. Do you have a crazy outline you write from? How to you take a story from idea to book, essentially (I know, broad question, haha)

I’m what they call a mostly-pantser. So, I have an idea, I get to know some characters, find the starting scenes, play out a few pivotal scenes in my head, and then start writing without any real framework. I don’t know exactly where the story is headed, or what will be involved. For example, I thought Anna Dressed in Blood would end on the shores of Lake Superior. I thought Superior would have a bigger role overall. Turns out it barely gets a mention.

If I’m lucky, I know how it will end. I rarely get so lucky.

Any weird writer’s quirks? Special pens? Candles burning when you write?  A set schedule or word count you must do every day? 

Is laziness a weird writer’s quirk? Probably not. I can’t force write. Is that a thing? Force writing? Anyway, if the words aren’t there, no amount of me staring at a computer screen will get them there. So, I wait until I feel it, and try as best I can to set a schedule. No special pens. I have a notebook open beside my laptop for notes. No burning candles. Usually the Food Network on in the background, or I’ll flip through those Music Choice channels.

What can you tell us about book 2 in the Goddess Wars series? Any secrets to reveal for fans who want more?

I can tell you that more heroes and gods show up. Someone is going to arrive and make trouble for Athena where Odysseus is concerned. If you want to know who, you can find her in the pages of the Odyssey. And we’re probably headed to the Underworld, at least once.

 What have you read lately that you’ve loved? Our readers are always looking for great recommendations!

NOS4A2, by Joe Hill. I’m eagerly awaiting Dr. Sleep, by Joe Hill’s dad. I recently loved April Genevieve Tucholke’s BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA and there’s a great debut that’s not to be missed in a few weeks, Mindy McGinnis’ NOT A DROP TO DRINK. And everyone should probably read some Caitlin R Kiernan. Just because.

Thank you so much for featuring me on Lytherus!

-Kendare

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Want more from Kendare? Follow her on twitter and check out her awesome website. And don’t forget to enter in a giveaway to win one of two copies of Kendare’s newest book, Antigoddess.

Book Editorial, Books, Editorials

Kendare Blake talks goddesses and war in this exclusive guest post!

The always hilarious and very insightful Kendare Blake wrote up an awesome guest post for Lytherus today, talking about the name of her series, and why it is a war between goddesses, not gods. Definitely worth a read!

Take it away Kendare!

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Why ‘The Goddess War’?

By Kendare Blake

athena14Why not, ‘The God War’? I mean, there are gods there, too, aren’t there?

I’ve never actually been asked this question. But if I ever am, my response will be, “because. Shut up.” And then I shall stick out my tongue and twerk and run away.

Not really. I still don’t actually know what ‘twerking’ is. But it sounds funny.

The true answer is, “I don’t know.”

I mean, sure, I like to see dynamic females in fiction. But equality between the sexes is actually much closer to my heart. Yet the boys (or at least the boy gods) seem to have gotten the shaft in this installment. It’s the ladies of Antigoddess who run the show: Athena vs Hera all the way with Cassandra of Troy as pickle in the middle. The boys have time to shine, time to be heroes because they ARE heroes, but I have to admit, they play second fiddle. I feel sort of bad about that. Am I super sexist, or what?

Kendare-BlakeTo assuage my guilt, I’m going to blame my upbringing. Formative years spent watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, and the Terminator movies taught me that girl heroes are interesting heroes. Can I really be blamed that Sarah Connor is more riveting than Kyle Reese? (Forgive me, Kyle Reese, I love you. Also, forgive me Hicks, I love you, too. Wait a second…Kyle Reese, Hicks…Michael Biehn…is all this Michael Biehn’s fault? Impossible. I also love Michael Biehn.)

Perhaps a more disturbing question is why I chose an all-lady leading cast for a story that hinges on their painful demise. I didn’t think about it when I wrote the short story that sparked the idea for Antigoddess, and I didn’t think about it when writing the novel. But every grisly death I imagined was the end of a goddess. Not a god.

Do the deaths of women seem more tragic? Somehow more Ophelia-beautiful? Or were the essences of the goddesses marginalized and made less human, so it was easier to imagine an end for them tied to one defining characteristic? Demeter’s harvest laid to waste, the huntress Artemis torn apart by beasts, Aphrodite’s love turned in on itself to madness.

Geez, I hope not. I probably just like putting ladies through shit. They can take it.

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What do you think? In a war with gods and goddesses, where would you put your focus?

Want more from Kendare? Follow her on twitter and check out her awesome website. And don’t forget to enter in a giveaway to win one of two copies of Kendare’s newest book, Antigoddess.

Book Events, Books, Events

Giveaway: Win one of two copies of ‘Antigoddess’ by Kendare Blake!

13246736As part of the Kendare Blake featured author week, we’re giving away two copies of her new book Antigoddess. 

Our giveaway is simple. Unfortunately, it’s open to residents of North America only (sorry, international fans!). If you’re under 18, please make sure to get your parents’ permission to enter the giveaway. You can earn a total of six entries in the giveaway:

  • ONE entry for simply entering the giveaway
  • TWO entries for following us on Twitter
  • TWO entries for “liking” us on Facebook
  • ONE entry for talking about the giveaway on Twitter

The giveaway will stay open until Tuesday, September 17th, at 12:01 am. Winners will automatically be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. The first name of each winner will be announced on this post and winners will be contacted by a member of our staff to begin the process of shipping out your prize.

Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Review: Kendare Blake brings a fresh, suspense-filled take on the ancient Greek gods in ‘Antigoddess’

Kendare Blake has a lot of fans, thanks to her awesome book Anna Dressed in Blood. She’s starting a new series with Antigoddess, which brings the greek gods roaring into today’s age in a wonderfully fresh way. What’s the book about? Here’s the summary:

Blake_antigoddessThe Goddess War begins in Antigoddess, the first installment of the new series by acclaimed author ofAnna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake.

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

I heard Kendare speak on a panel at SDCC, and I fell in love with her. This girl is freaking hilarious. And witty. And has some really poignant things to say. And all of these things are present in spades in Antigoddess. I laughed out loud frequently (it’s pretty funny hearing ancient immortals using current colloquialisms and pop-culture references with sarcasm, distain, and humor). I also really enjoyed the alternation of chapters between the main female protagonist, Cassandra (the reincarnation of an ancient prophetess, which is very cool), and some of the gods. It helps to see where they are coming from regarding the conflict that Cassandra gets pulled into the middle of, and it adds a lot of depth to the backstory, which helps me feel a lot more for the well-being of the characters.

There’s an interesting romance angle, but it isn’t front and center. There are nice little make-out bits shoved in here and there, but that’s not the point of this story. However, it adds a lot to the progression of the tale, and it rounds out the characters nicely. Plus, hey, who doesn’t want to make out with a hot golden god who can literally warm you with his touch? It’s pretty fun watching Cassandra experience all of these things.

There are a bit of f-bombs dropped, and some honest, real teen language (i.e. a bit crude sometimes), so if you’re put off by that be warned, it’s there. But it didn’t bother me, if anything it made what the teens (and ancient immortal gods) say feel more realistic.

If you’re a fan of mythology, this is a must-read. Also, there’s some great suspense and tension, as the book always has you wondering what’s around the next corner. This is another one that I fell asleep to reading, a sign that it’s impossible for me to put down. I can’t wait to see what happens as this series progresses.

Antigoddess is out today, September 10th, 2013, by Tor Teen.

Books, Featured Author Week

Featured Author Week: Kendare Blake (‘Antigoddess’) Visits Lytherus!

kendare blake featured weekKendare Blake , author of the Antigoddes,  first book in the Goddess War series, will be joining us this week for reviews, an interview, a guest post, and an awesome giveaway!

Antigoddess is out this week. What’s it about? Check out below:

Blake_antigoddessThe Goddess War begins in Antigoddess, the first installment of the new series by acclaimed author ofAnna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake.

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

Here’s a breakdown of this week’s featured author articles:

  • Monday (September 9th): Introduction to the Kendare Blake Featured Author Week
  • Tuesday (September 10th): Review of Antigoddess
  • Wednesday (September 11th): Giveaway!
  • Thursday (September 12th): Guest post with Kendare Blake
  • Friday (September 13th): Exclusive interview with Kendare Blake

Looking for more to read? View our past archive of featured authors, with a stellar lineup including Lev Grossman, Stefan Bachmann, Colleen Houck, and more!

Book Editorial, Books, Editorials

Lytherus’ top ten new release young adult books you CAN’T miss this fall!

top ten young adult book releasesFall is the time for reading. The weather’s turning colder, days are getting shorter, and it’s perfect for snuggling up with a book. Lucky for us, there is a ton of great young adult books coming out this fall. Our team sat down to compile our top ten list of most anticipated fall young adult novels you can’t miss out on! Here’s a list of our top ten choices to look forward to:

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake (September 10th)

antigoddess-kendare-blakeKendare Blake made a mark for herself with Anna Dressed in Blood, and now she’s beginning a new series with Antigoddess  the premise of which begs the question, ‘What if the immortal gods started dying?’ Stay tuned next week, we’re going to be featuring Kendare and this book Monday through Friday! Here’s the summary:

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

 

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (September 17th)

dream-thievesFor those of who haven’t read book one in this series (The Raven Boys) yet, you’re seriously missing out. But now’s a good time, because book two, The Dream Thieves, is just around the corner. The world has been established, but many questions go unanswered, and Maggie left readers hanging with the final sentence of the first book, leading right into book two (which is hinted at in the title!)  Here’s the summary:

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after….

 

Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston (September 17th)

frozen-melissa-de-la-cruz-michael-johnstonMelissa was made popular by her vampire series Blue Bloods. In this endeavor she pairs up with her husband to co-write Frozen, the first book in a new series about a futuristic frozen Los Vegas, a forbidden magic, and a journey that could change lives. We’re going to be featuring this book on Lytherus, so stay tuned! Here’s the summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston comes this remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she’s heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes
find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

 

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (September 24th)

steelheart-brandon-sandersonWhat if there were really superheroes in the world? What if every single one of them, without exception, was evil? What chance would regular people stand against such forces? And how can someone defeat the invincible? These are some of the questions raised in master storyteller Brandon Sanderson’s upcoming book Steelheart. It’s every bit as epic as it sounds, and we’re going to be featuring it during it’s release week, so definitely stop back! Bonus: there’s a chapter excerpt if you want to get started now. Here’s the summary.

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mistborn Trilogy, Brandon Sanderson, comes the first book in a new, action-packed thrill ride of a series—Steelheart.

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. Nobody fights the Epics . . . nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

 

Unbreakable by Kami Garcia (October 10th)

Kami Garcia/UnbreakableGhosts! Murder! Secret societies! These are some of the awesome things featured in Kami Garcia’s new book Unbreakable. This is her first solo project after the very popular and much -loved Beautiful Creatures series she wrote with Margaret Stohl, and it’s one of the most anticipated books of the fall. And Lytherus managed to snag an exclusive interview with her for release week, so be sure to check it out! Here’s the summary:

I never believed in ghosts.
Until one tried to kill me.
When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, she doesn’t realize that paranormal forces are responsible–not until mysterious identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into her room and destroy a deadly spirit sent to kill her.
Kennedy learns that her mother’s death was no accident, and now she has to take her place in the Legion of the Black Dove–a secret society whose five members were all murdered on the same night, leaving the Legion in the hands of the next generation: a misfit group with unique skills.
As the new members race to find the only weapon capable of destroying the demon, they use their individual talents to battle paranormal entities and earn their rightful place in the Legion–except for Kennedy.
If she is truly the missing piece of the puzzle, can she stay alive long enough to find out–without losing her heart in the process?
Protect Yourself.
What you can’t see CAN hurt you

 

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner (October 8th)

the-eye-of-minds-james-dashnerWe’re James Dashner fans here at Lytherus, and this new book, the first in a new series, has promise to be one of our favorites this fall. James uses the awesome imagination we loved in The Maze Runner series and delivers it again in The Eye of Minds, a futuristic cyber world filled with intrigue and adventure. And gaming! And hacking! It should be a good one, especially if you’re a fan of scifi, gaming, or the world of coding. We’ll be featuring Dashner all of his release week, so be sure to stop by. Here’s the summary:

From James Dashner, the author of the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, comes an all-new, edge-of-your seat adventure. The Eye of Minds is the first book in The Mortality Doctrine, a series set in a world of hyperadvanced technology, cyberterrorists, and gaming beyond your wildest dreams . . . and your worst nightmares.

Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker.And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team. But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

 

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (October 22nd)

allegiant-veronica-rothIf I had to pick the top YA book that’s most anticipated this fall, it’s Allegiant, the conclusion to Veronica Roth’s superb Divergent series. With the Divergent movie coming out next year, this series has been everywhere. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see how it ends. Here’s the summary:

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?
The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

 

Teardrop by Lauren Kate (October 22nd)

teardrop-lauren-kateTeardrop is the first book in a new series by Lauren Kate. We’re going to be featuring her all of release week, and having already read and advanced copy of the book, we can say that this book is fantastic. It feels fresh and new, and fans of Lauren’s Fallen series will gobble this one right up. Fans who love fantasy, adventure, and romance should also definitely not miss it. Here’s the summary:

The first in a new series by Lauren Kate, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fallen series, TEARDROP is an epic saga of heart-stopping romance, devastating secrets, and dark magic . . . a world where everything you love can be washed away.
Never, ever cry. . . . Eureka Boudreaux’s mother drilled that rule into her daughter years ago. But now her mother is gone, and everywhere Eureka goes he is there: Ander, the tall, pale blond boy who seems to know things he shouldn’t, who tells Eureka she is in grave danger, who comes closer to making her cry than anyone has before.
But Ander doesn’t know Eureka’s darkest secret: ever since her mother drowned in a freak accident, Eureka wishes she were dead, too. She has little left that she cares about, just her oldest friend, Brooks, and a strange inheritance—a locket, a letter, a mysterious stone, and an ancient book no one understands. The book contains a haunting tale about a girl who got her heart broken and cried an entire continent into the sea. Eureka is about to discover that the ancient tale is more than a story, that Ander might be telling the truth . . . and that her life has far darker undercurrents than she ever imagined.

 

The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare (October 29th)

the-shadowhunters-codex-cassandra-clareThis is more of a companion book than an actual novel, but for fans of Cassandra Clare and anything Shadowhunter, this is going to be a must-have. This is the Shadowhunter instruction manual, and not only that, it’s Clary’s actual copy, complete with her personal sketches and notes. This should be a very cool insight to the morals and creation of the demon killing machines fans of the series know and love. Here’s the summary:

Delve into the details of all things Shadowhunter with this illustrated guide to the knowledge and lore of the Shadowhunter world.

Since the thirteenth century, the Shadowhunter’s Codex has been the one and only manual for Shadowhunters looking to brush up on their demon languages, learn proper stele use, and discover just what exactly a pyxis is. Featured in both The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, this guide is a necessity for any young Nephilim on their journey to becoming a Shadowhunter. Beautifully illustrated, the Codex contains images of the famous Shadowhunter homeland of Idris, as well as depictions of demons and other Downworlders.
But this isn’t just any copy of The Shadowhunter’s Codex. It’s Clary’s copy, and as an artist herself, she’s sketched pictures of her friends and family in the book, and scrawled helpful advice in the margins. Of course, she couldn’t exactly stop Jace or Simon from adding their thoughts either. Part encyclopedia, part history, part training manual—complete with commentary from Shadowhunters who have seen it all—this beautiful guide is a perfect supplement to the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

 

Curtsies and Consperacies by Gail Carriger (November 5th)

curtsies-and-consperacies-gail-carrigerThis is book two in Gail’s young adult series, set in the same world as her steampunk Parasol Protectorate series. Murder, mayhem, and manners abound in these books. They are a riot to read, and really creative. I’m sure Curtsies and Consperacies will continue that legacy proudly. If you’ve never read any, start with the adult books and then move on to the YA. You won’t be sorry. If you’re up to date, here’s an excerpt of book 2. Here’s the summary:

Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?

Sophronia’s first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy–won’t Mumsy be surprised? Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers’ quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship’s boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a field trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot–one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

In this sequel to New York Times bestselling Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail’s distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season.

BONUS BOOKS: There are several books that didn’t make the list, not because they lack quality but because they just recently released! If you’re looking for a great book to read while waiting for one of the books on this list to come out, check out some of these fantastic readers:

We’d love to hear in the comments which books you would have put on the list, if any of your most anticipated books didn’t make it! Happy reading!

Book News, Books, News

This Week’s New Book Releases, Week of August 5th, 2012

Hey guys! Here’s this week’s new books in scifi, fantasy and horror. Click on the title to see the covers. Enjoy!

Released Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Charon’s Claw: Neverwinter Saga, Book III, by R. A. Salvatore

In the 3rd book of the #4 New York Times best-selling Neverwinter Saga, Drizzt draws his swords once more to aid his friends. His lover, Dahlia Sin’felle, can speak of nothing but the moment she will face the Netherese lord Herzgo Alegni once again. Drizzt has already followed a trail of vengeance beside Dahlia. Can he justify one more battle to settle a grudge he does not understand? Artemis Entreri too seeks vengeance. He offers to aid Dahlia in her mission to destroy Alegni. But Charon’s Claw, Alegni’s sentient sword, dominates Entreri’s movements—if not his mind. And then there’s the way Entreri looks at Dahlia. Can Drizzt trust his old foe?

The Constantine Affliction (Pimm and Skye), by T. Aaron Payton

1864. London is a city in transition. The Constantine Affliction–a strange malady that kills some of its victims and physically transforms others into the opposite sex–has spread scandal and upheaval throughout society. Scientific marvels and disasters, such as clockwork courtesans, the alchemical fires of Whitechapel, electric carriages, and acidic monsters lurking in the Thames, have forever altered the face of the city.
Pembroke “Pimm” Hanover is an aristocrat with an interest in criminology, who uses his keen powers of observation to assist the police or private individuals–at least when he’s sober enough to do so. Ellie Skyler, who hides her gender behind the byline “E. Skye,” is an intrepid journalist driven by both passion and necessity to uncover the truth, no matter where it hides.
When Pimm and Skye stumble onto a dark plot that links the city’s most notorious criminal overlord with the Queen’s new consort, famed scientist Sir Bertram Oswald, they soon find the forces of both high and low society arrayed against them. Can they save the city from the arcane machinations of one of history’s most monsters–and uncover the shocking origin of . . . THE CONSTANTINE AFFLICTION.

Dying Echo: A Grim Reaper Mystery, by Judy Clemens

It’s been years since Casey Maldonado visited her hometown, and the only reason she’s returning now is to get her brother Ricky out of jail, where he sits after being arrested for the brutal murder of Alicia McManus, his girlfriend of several months.  Casey believes in her brother’s innocence, but proving that to the cops is a different thing altogether. As Casey and her ever-present companion Death investigate Alicia’s murder, it becomes clear she was not who she claimed to be, from her name to her non-existent past.  Instead of a solid history, she left only questions when she died.  Where did she come from?  What secrets did she know?  And, most importantly, who were the three people she spoke of when Death carried her away?

King of Thorns (The Broken Empire), by Mark Lawrence

In Book One of the Broken Empire, Mark Lawrence brought to life the “morbidly gripping”* (Publishers Weekly) story of a boy in search of power and vengeance. Now, in King of Thorns, that boy’s journey into manhood takes him to the dark depths waiting within his soul…
The boy who would be King has gained the throne…
Prince Honorious Jorg Ancrath vowed when he was nine to avenge his slaughtered mother and brother—and punish his father for not doing so. When he was fifteen, he began to fulfill that vow. Now he is eighteen—and he must hold on by strength of arms to what he took by torture and treachery.
King Jorg is a man haunted: by the ghost of a young boy, by a mysterious copper box, by his desire for the woman who rides with his enemy. Plagued by nightmares of the atrocities he committed, and of the atrocities committed against him when he was a child, he is filled with rage. And even as his need for revenge continues to consume him, twenty thousand men march toward the gates of his castle. His enemy is far stronger than him. Jorg knows that he cannot win a fair fight.
But he has found, in a chamber hidden beneath the castle, ancient and long-lost artifacts. Some might call them magic. Jorg is not certain—all he knows is that the secrets they hold can be put to terrible use in the coming battle…

Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris Book 1), by Jim C. Hines

Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg.  Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.
With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .

Mercy Kill: Star Wars (X-Wing), by Aaron Allston

The intrepid spies, pilots, and sharpshooters of Wraith Squadron are back in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which transpires just after the events of the Fate of the Jedi series! Three decades have passed since Wraith Squadron carried out its last mission. Taking on the most dangerous and daring operations, the rogues and misfits of the elite X-Wing unit became legends of the Rebellion and the Second Galactic Civil War, before breaking up and going their separate ways. Now their singular skills are back in vital demand—for a tailor-made Wraith Squadron mission. A powerful general in the Galactic Alliance Army, once renowned for his valor, is suspected of participating in the infamous Lecersen Conspiracy, which nearly toppled the Alliance back into the merciless hands of the Empire. With orders to expose and apprehend the traitor—and license to do so by any and all means—the Wraiths will become thieves, pirates, impostors, forgers . . . and targets, as they put their guts, their guns, and their riskiest game plan to the test against the most lethal of adversaries.

Montefiore’s Goddaughter, by Elizabeth Brooks

Where do you go at night, once you have turned out the light?

Abigail Crabtree’s imaginary world a precious escape from the waking world. That is until one wintry night, when a sinister horseman appears to wrest it from her in the name of the King of Traumund. Desperate to save her realm, she turns to her godfather—the enchanting Mr. Montefiore—for help. She takes refuge in his desolate country house, where rumors of cruelty and murder abound. Abigail and her giant owl soar outside her imaginary world and into the vast universe of collective dreams.

But even as she delights in Traumund’s bewildering beauty, she finds herself ever more seduced by the very evil that threatens to destroy it. How can Abigail remember what she is fighting for? How can she even be sure where her loyalties lie? And, most of all, will she ever be free of the intensely beguiling Mr. Montefiore?

Queen of Wands (Special Circumstances), by John Ringo

Soccer mom and demon fighter Barabara Everette is back  in this intricately interwoven monster noir thriller, the sequel to bestselling Princess of Wands by eight times New York Times best-seller, John Ringo.

Barbara Everette has a problem.  It seems Janea, Barbara’s assistant and The Foundation for Love and Universal Faith’s best operative, has been thrown into a coma by some very nasty magic she’s stirred up. Barbara must track down the perpetrators and break the spell or Janea’s soul will be forever lost on the astral plane. Oh, and if she can’t break the spell, zombies will destroy all mankind.

Meanwhile, Janea, a high-dollar call girl, stripper and High Priestess of Freya when she isn’t fighting demons, must contend with a spiritual journey of her own.  It’s a journey into Janea’s acceptance of herself in all her dimensions (and what dimensions they are!). Where to locate one’s true inner essence? At a science fiction convention, of course. But when rescuers pursue Janea into her vision of a geeky alternate reality, we find this is one science fiction convention where the Guest of Honor could turn out to be Death Himself.

Finally, the Christian soccer mom and the Norse priestess stripper face their greatest challenge ever when an ancient Old One rears Her ugly face, and the Mother of Darkness walks among us. Since this is one Mother who is quite immune to any conventional power, including nuclear weapons, it seems humanity’s only hope is God. The question being: Is God willing to save humanity?

Fortunately for the rest of us, Barbara and Janea are determined to fight to the last ounce of faith to find out.

Seawitch: A Greywalker Novel, by Kat Richardson

Harper Blaine was your average small-time PI until she died—for two minutes. Now Harper is a Greywalker, treading the thin line between the living world and the paranormal realm. And she’s discovering that her new abilities are landing her all sorts of “strange” cases.

A quarter century ago, the Seawitch cruised away from her dock and disappeared with everyone on board. Now, the boat has mysteriously returned to her old berth in Seattle and the insurance company has hired Harper to find out what happened.

But Harper is not the only one investigating. Seattle Police Detective Rey Solis is a good cop, albeit one who isn’t comfortable with the creepy cases that always seem to end up in Harper’s lap. As they explore the abandoned vessel, Harper and Solis discover a cabin containing symbols drawn in human blood, revealing the ghost ship’s grave history.

As Solis focuses on the possible murder of a passenger’s wife, Harper’s investigation leads her to a powerful being who may be responsible for the disappearance of the Seawitch’s passengers and crew. And while their searches lead Harper and Solis in different directions, they will need to put aside their differences to solve a deadly mystery twenty-five years in the making…

When Diplomacy Fails (Freehold), by Michael Z. Williamson

Alex Marlow and Ripple Creek Security’s best personal security detail return to action. This time, they reallydon’t like their principal, World Bureau of State Minister Joy Herman Highland–a highly-placed bureaucrat with aspirations to elected office. Even worse, Highland’s assistant wants to publicize every movement and action for her boss’s pending campaign, which is anathema to good security.

With a person of this status, it’s not a case of someone wanting her dead. The only question is how manypeople want her dead, and what are they bringing to the fight?

The enemies are from without, within and all over. They have resources, funding and political cover. Ripple Creek needs to be cautious.

But the enemy also needs to worry. They’re going to be getting in each others’ way in the process of carrying out their plans. And Ripple Creek has no qualms about explosions on galactic news. In fact, they enjoy it.

Biting Cold: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel, by Chloe Neill

Turned into a vampire against her will, twenty-eight-year-old Merit found her way into the dark circle of Chicago’s vampire underground, where she learned there was more to supernaturals than met the eye–and more supernaturals than the public ever imagined.

And not all the secrets she learned were for sharing–among humans or inhumans.

Now Merit is on the hunt, charging across the stark American Midwest, tailing a rogue supernatural intent on stealing an ancient artifact that could unleash catastrophic evil on the world. But Merit is also the prey. An enemy of Chicagoland is hunting her, and he’ll stop at nothing to get the book for himself. No mercy allowed.
No rules apply. No lives spared. The race is on.

Black Gold (Takhini Wolves), by Vivian Arend

Their wolves are howling at the moon. Their human halves are on different planets.

Tahkini Wolves, Book 1

Lone wolf Shaun Steven’s automatic response to the words “happily ever after”? Kill me now. Yet with all his friends settling down he’s begun to think there may actually be something to this love-and-roses crap.

One thing’s for sure: his dream mate will have to out-cuss, out-spit and out-hike him. So he never expected the one to push his forever button would be a blue-blooded Southern debutante with a voice as dark and velvety as her skin.

When Gemmita Jacobs steps off the plane in Whitehorse, Yukon, it’s about more than her caribou research project. It’s her declaration of independence from an overprotected upbringing. Except there’s something in the air she can’t quite define—something that unexpectedly rouses her mating instincts.

Moments after their eyes lock, the deed is done—and done thoroughly. When the pheromone dust settles, though, all the reasons they don’t belong together become painfully clear.

It’s enough to make a wolf learn a whole new set of cuss words…

Warning: Two strong wolves getting exactly what they deserve. Includes wilderness nookie, shifters being naughty in public places, the Midnight Sun as a canopy for seduction and grizzly shifters on the loose. Oh, and don’t forget the sarcasm.

Blood and Silver (Deacon Chalk, Occult Bounty Hunter), by James R. Tuck

Deacon Chalk normally has no trouble telling innocent victims from real monsters. So protecting an abused pregnant were-dog is a no-brainer…until a vicious lycanthrope leader and his brotherhood target Deacon, other shape-shifters, and any humans in their way. Suddenly, Deacon is outnumbered, outgunned, and unsure who – or what – to trust. The only edge he has left is a weapon hungry for his soul and his most savage impulses. And using it will exact a price even this hell-raising hunter fears to pay…

A Bloody Good Secret, by Sierra Dean

You can’t keep a good Secret for long.

Secret McQueen, Book 2

After cheating death twice in one night, confessing her true nature to her werewolf soul mates and being asked to kill one of her closest friends, Secret took a much-needed vacation. By running away.

Now she’s back in town—dragged kicking and screaming—determined to clear Holden Chancery’s name. Right after she finds out what he’s accused of. It shouldn’t be hard—Holden has a habit of using their new and scintillating psychic bond to break into her thoughts and dreams at some very, shall we say, awkward moments.

Just a few things stand in her way: a secretive Tribunal leader, a group of would-be vampire slayers and two werewolf boyfriends who refuse to let her operate in her customary lone-wolf style. Even less amusing are the terrifying creatures that someone is using in an attempt to gain control of the council. Even for this out-of-the-ordinary bounty hunter, it’s a challenge with potentially deadly teeth.

Warning: This book contains an ever-plucky heroine with no shortage of weapons; super-hot mind games; an ever-complicated love triangle and one hell of a creepy amusement park.

Burning Bright, by A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder

Curiosity never killed this cat, but love could have deadly consequences.

Sasha Soskoff has two reasons for moving to Chicago: secure a tenured position in veterinary research medicine, and widen his horizons. After a night at the city’s hottest new club, though, a wrong turn down a dark alley narrows his focus to surviving three muggers. As consciousness fades, he catches a glimpse of his rescuer, whose mere appearance is enough to chase the attackers off.

Neal Harrison doesn’t often have to call on his skills as an ex-Marine to maintain control at his club. But with Sasha, he can’t seem to keep his hands to himself. Yet there’s danger in allowing any close relationships, particularly with a naïve young newcomer. The safety of his business depends on the iron-clad secret he and his ex-Marine buddies all hide.

While Neal seems happy to satisfy Sasha’s insatiable curiosity about the erotic scenes played out in the club’s private rooms, Sasha senses his new lover is holding something back.

When the truth claws its way out amid a night of tribal blood and violence, Neal discovers his lover has a secret of his own. And that the forces arrayed against them all could make a mugging look like a walk in the park…

Warning: Contains explicit, adult situations: male on male, more males on several more males, no-holds-barred erotic scenes, no-claws-barred violence, and loved forged in the heat of desire.

Cipher (Southern Arcana), by Moira Rogers

Their desire could be their destruction…or their greatest strength.

Southern Arcana, Book 4

Fourteen months ago, Kat Gabriel learned a brutal truth. Under the wrong circumstances, her empathic ability is no gift. It’s a deadly weapon. Now her soul bears the inescapable weight of those deaths—and it aches for the loss of the easy relationship she once shared with Andrew Callaghan. Unleashing her power saved his life, but she couldn’t save his humanity.

Since the attack that turned him into a werewolf, Andrew’s sole focus has been to make himself stronger. Pushing her away hurt like hell, but Kat doesn’t need a friend. She needs a protector strong enough to shield her from the supernatural world that forced her to kill. Strong enough to resist their volatile connection.

As Kat’s quest to understand the violent legacy of her past leads her into the darkest underbelly of the psychic world, Andrew is at her side. Yet every step forward rips open old emotional wounds and shakes their control. Where they’re headed, distractions of any kind can be fatal—especially when the greatest threat they pose is to each other.

Warning: This book contains a dangerous shapeshifter who could kill you with his bare hands, an empathic hacker who could kill you with her mind, a psychic cult determined to kill everyone, a lot of violence, a little bit of hope, and a happily-ever-after seven years in the making.

Containment, by Christian Cantrell

The colony on Venus was not built because the destruction of Earth was possible, but because it was inevitable…

A brilliant young scientist and one of the first humans born on Venus, Arik works tirelessly to perfect the science of artificial photosynthesis, a project crucial to the future of his home, V1. The colony was built on the harsh Venusian surface by the Founders, the first humans to establish a permanent extraterrestrial settlement. Arik’s research becomes critical when he awakens from an unexplained, near-fatal accident and learns that his wife is three months pregnant. Unless Arik’s research uncovers a groundbreaking discovery, V1’s oxygen supply will not be able to support the increase in population that his baby represents.

As Arik works against time, he begins to untangle the threads of his accident, which seem inextricably linked to what lies outside the protective walls of V1—a world where the caustic atmosphere and extreme heat make all forms of known life impossible. For its entire existence, Arik’s generation has been expected to help solve the problems of colonization. But as Arik digs deeper and deeper, he discovers alarming truths about the planet that the Founders have kept hidden. With growing urgency and increasing peril, Arik finds himself on a journey that will push him to the limits of his intelligence and take him beyond the unimaginable.

Dark Empress (Onic Empire), by Anitra Lynn McLeod

Her denial is no match for her darkest desires.

Errion Ald’Areed senses that his business partner’s passion for designing pleasure upgrades for service robots has cooled, but nothing he’s tried—men, women, exotic adventures—has lifted Lorren D’Buren’s ennui. Until he sees the look in Lorren’s eyes when the intergalactic ambassador from Diola crosses their path at a charity ball.

Under the watchful eye of Gabriyel, her faithful bodyguard, Farjika is determined to live down her empress mother’s scandalous reputation for taking multiple lovers. Her instant attraction to Lorren, though, tempts her to cross her self-imposed bounds of propriety. And Gabriyel is shocked that his level-headed mistress has fallen so easily into a torrid affair.

At first Errion is pleased that Farjika has roused Lorren out of his funk. When he notices the depth of the mutual fascination, though, he realizes he must act quickly—or lose his sometime lover and best friend.

His plan to eliminate the threat is perfect in its beautiful complexity. Until one snag in his delicate web of seduction plunges them all into a potentially deadly tangle with no way out…

Warning: Contains humor, masturbatory robots, mystical BDSM, stern punishments and more variations on m/m/m/f than the author can count. Sex toys are not included with purchase but are strongly recommended.

Deep Space Fever, by Kate Donovan

The temperature’s rising, and there’s only one cure. Pour on the heat.

Space Fever Torr’s ability to train pilots is the planet Cortierra’s only hope. Except he’s suffering from lust fever two years ahead of schedule. He must return home to mate with a Zentarin female, or die…Unless by some miracle a Cortierran female satisfies him.

Cabbie will to anything to defend her home, even sleep with the hunky offworlder. One feverish night later, Torr has his cure, and Cabbie willingly gives him her heart—until his motives flings it back at her in pieces. When rebels kidnap her, her life depends on her frayed bond with Torr.

Star Fever When Mar-Tessa’s lust fever strikes right on schedule, she’s horrified to discover why she’s allergic to Zentarin males: she’s half-Cortierran. The distasteful cure: exposure to a Cortierran male. Self-image wavering, she prepares to meet her “antidote.”

Ryandrus is so pumped to be selected to train with Zentarin pilots, he barely notices their disdain. Then a sexy vixen approaches him, and he finds himself promising anything to get her in bed. Shortly afterward, he’s thrown on an outbound ship…yet his body burns for his mate. And he intends to battle his way across the galaxy to find her again.

Warning: This book contains non-FDA-approved home remedies for lust fever, and bonding activities that are illegal in at least three galaxies.

Dying For You, by MaryJanice Davidson

Together for the first time, four devilishly entertaining novellas by the New York Times bestselling author prove that there’s not only life after death, but desire too…
The Fixer-Upper Cathy’s new home is handsomely furnished—by an amorous male ghost. If only she had something she could…touch. Her neighbor may have a lousy personality, but he does have a perfect body. Now, spirit is about to meet flesh, to Cathy’s delight.
Paradise Bossed While traveling in the Cayman Islands, Nikki loses her life in a tragic accident, but has no intention of cutting her vacation short. When a handsome male psychic is engaged to get a grip on Nikki’s spirit, he does more. He finds himself falling in love with her.
Driftwood A Cape Cod werewolf agonizes over the death of a woman by his own paw. Well, to be fair, he never really killed her. She’s a vampire. Now she needs his help to kill the bloodsucker who turned her.
Witch Way For centuries their families have been embroiled in a violent, irreversible feud. Today, can a witch and a witch-hunter find common ground…without killing each other first? Sometimes opposites do attract.

Eternal Beast: Mark of the Vampire, by Laura Wright

Ever since his abduction by the Eternal Order of Vampires, Gray Donohue has finally found his true calling: vengeance. He will stop at nothing to bring his fellow Impure vampires the freedom they deserve. Now if he could just release his primal need for the beautiful vampire who saved his life-and rules his thoughts and desires . . .After nearly killing the senator she was assigned to protect, Dillon is now in mortal danger. The jaguar within her has been unleashed, and she can no longer control it. Sex is the only thing that can tame her shift. And Gray is the only man who can make her surrender to a passion strong enough to overpower her inner beast. But she doesn’t want to surrender-she wants her life back. Because she is determined never to belong to anyone, especially not Gray-the man who destiny claims is her mate.

The Fate of the Dwarves, by Markus Heitz

There has been no word from the courageous warrior Tungdil since the bitter struggle that took place at the Black Abyss. Dragons, magicians, and the cruel älfar have advanced far into the kingdom Girdlegard, ruthlessly seizing vast areas of land. It seems that the dwarves are facing their next battle with very little hope of survival.
But then the inexplicable happens; a dwarf warrior dressed in black armor returns from the abyss – with a formidable army in tow. This warrior calls himself Tungdil, and for his most loyal friend Ireheart and his allies, this means a new hope. But soon doubts begin arise . . . Could this really be Tungdil the dwarf, or is this warrior following his own dark agenda? It is a question of the future of Girdlegard – and the future of all the dwarves.
In the final installment of this spectacular fantasy epic, the greatest of the dwarves’ adventures begins . . .

The Grass King’s Concubine, by Kari Sperring

Kari Sperring’s first novel was a finalist for the Crawford Award, a Tiptree Award Honor Book, a LOCUS Recommended First Novel, and the winner of the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer. Now she returns to the same amazing and atmospheric world with an entirely new story set several hundred years after the earth-shaking events of Living With Ghosts.
When a wealthy young woman, obsessed with a childhood vision of a magical Shining Palace, sets out with her true love to search for a legendary land, she discovers the devastated WorldBelow – the realm of the Grass King – and the terrifying Cadre, who take her prisoner, and demand she either restore the king’s concubine… or replace her.

Heart Secret, by Robin D. Owens

On the faraway planet Celta, there are some things you can never tell—until someone discovers your Heart Secret…
When a virulent disease killed the woman he loved and her baby, Garrett Primross was left alive, a reluctant survivor. Now, as a private eye, he strives to banish the memories of his past and rebuild his life. The Healers of Celta have something else in mind: Discover why he survived.
He is monitored by Healer Artemisia Panax—his HeartMate, a love he never pursued. Still mourning his loss, he refuses to acknowledge her. Since her family was publicly disgraced, she’s used to such treatment. She wants nothing more than to guard her livelihood and protect the secrets she’s sworn to keep.
Thrown together by duty, Garrett and Artemisia find the body of the last Black Magic Cultist who ruined her family. Suspicion flares, but they have little choice but to investigate the crime together. When their own lives are placed in danger, they realize that denying their HeartMates is only denying their own future.

Ice and Shadow, by Andre Norton

Two bestselling novels of science fiction adventure set the Forerunner universe from legendary storyteller Andre Norton together for the first time.

Ice Crown:

Roane, a young archaeologist, makes planetfall on a previously off-limits world where the inhabitants have been implanted with false memories and conditioned to obey their oligarchic masters.  Now Roane must fight to save the enslaved populace and her own inner essence by finding a powerful artifact that could bring new freedom to a planet that has spent eons in darkness.

Brother to Shadows:

Jofre, a young initiate to the assassin’s guild in a far future world, is betrayed and cast out by a corrupt nemesis–a priest with designs upon powerful, near-magic technology secreted somewhere on the planet. To save himself, Jofre must team with a crafty reptilian alien ally to find the hidden hoard of the Forerunners if he is to redeem himself and go forth and to find his destiny beyond the stars.

The Iron Wyrm Affair, by Lilith Saintcrow

Emma Bannon, forensic sorceress in the service of the Empire, has a mission: to protect Archibald Clare, a failed, unregistered mentath. His skills of deduction are legendary, and her own sorcery is not inconsiderable. It doesn’t help much that they barely tolerate each other, or that Bannon’s Shield, Mikal, might just be a traitor himself. Or that the conspiracy killing registered mentaths and sorcerers alike will just as likely kill them as seduce them into treachery toward their Queen.
In an alternate London where illogical magic has turned the Industrial Revolution on its head, Bannon and Clare now face hostility, treason, cannon fire, black sorcery, and the problem of reliably finding hansom cabs.
The game is afoot..

Locked in Silence (Grimm’s Circle), by Shiloh Walker

Dying is hard enough. Coming back to life is brutal.

Grimm’s Circle, Book 5

Vanya has been hunting and killing demons ever since one of them scarred her face and killed her sister. Correction—since she was forced to kill the demon possessing her sister.

Then some sort of angel offers her a deal she can’t refuse—that if she becomes one of them, she gets to kill even more demons. Tonight, she’s made that choice. The death she smells on the air will be her own—and she welcomes it.

Silence feels a darkness is looming. Change—something he has every reason not to welcome. The deeply hidden memories that robbed him of his past, of his own name, render him unfit to teach anyone the ways of the Grimm. Yet here he is in the dankest sex club in town, waiting to assume his charge—after he stands by and watches her die.

When Vanya awakes, their complicated, dangerous dance begins. And so does something else—a searing need that blisters along their unexpected mental connection. Silence shouldn’t be drawn to his student, but once they touch, he can’t think of a reason to stop. Even though acting out their darkest desires puts them in more danger than they realize.

Warning: This book contains sex-starved demons, lonely angels, demon-angel sandwiches, blood, violence, death and a happy-ever-after.

Love on the Run (Nola O’Grady), by Katherine Kerr

A Fishy Situation
Nola O’Grady is sick and tired of psychic squid-images following her everywhere, waving their tentacles and generally making nuisances of themselves. She and her partner, Ari Nathan, have a dangerous job on their hands, hunting down two criminals who have escaped into another level of the multiverse, the San Francisco of Terra Six.
Terrorists have turned parts of that city into a deathtrap—religious fanatics, yes, but from what religion? Nola suspects that the Peacock Angel Chaos cult lies behind the bombings and mass murders. As she gathers evidence, she finds herself face-to-face with part of her own personal past that she’d prefer to bury forever.
And by the way, just who is it that keeps trying to kill her?

Master of Darkness (Mageverse), by Angela Knight

In the final book of New York Times bestselling author Angela Knight’s Mageverse, two werewolves must save humanity from a madman, despite their mutual distrust–and growing passion…
Miranda Drake is the daughter of Warlock, a werewolf sorcerer and sworn enemy of King Arthur. Like her father, she’s a werewolf with magical abilities, but after years of abuse from the Alphas in her family, she is determined to stop Warlock from spreading his poison throughout the werewolf population.
Born to a long line of cops, William Justice thinks that protecting Miranda is his chance to redeem himself for not being able to stop Warlock’s manipulation of the werewolves into war. But despite Justice’s insistence, Miranda has no interest in trusting another dominant Alpha, even if the sexual tension between them is enough to set her aflame.
As Warlock rallies his forces and sets out to destroy Avalon, Miranda and Justice will need to learn how to trust each other–before the spark between them dies along with all of Magekind…

Maximum Witch (That Old Black Magic), by Jodi Redford

Who says getting eaten by a shark is a bad thing?

That Old Black Magic, Book 3

Willa Jameson is having one whopper of an identity crisis. Odd memory flashes that aren’t hers. A sultry voice in her head that’s obsessed with sex. Even weirder, she finds herself in the jaws of a rogue leviathan, dragged to the bottom of the ocean—and rescued by a hunky…shark?

The last thing Sheriff Max Truitt expects to find on his daily, deep-Atlantic patrol is a human—especially one who breathes underwater. Compelled to take her home, he waits for the beauty to wake up and reveal her name. Instead he’s treated to a punch in the nose, then a sexy romp hot enough to boil water.

The next morning, embarrassed by the sizzling, scandalous things the voice in her head drove her to do, Willa slips away. But if there’s one thing a determined shark excels at, it’s tracking his favorite meal.

Solving the mystery that is Willa is no simple task. When they finally unlock a dangerous secret hidden deep in her subconscious, it drives a wedge between them…and puts them in a desperate race against an evil that seeks to rain down a watery Armageddon on all mankind.

Warning: This book does not contain sex with a puffer fish. There’s not even sex with a seahorse. However, there’s plenty of smoking hot lovin’ with a shark. And even a steamy M/F/M threesome. So slap on your snorkels and swim fins, things are about to get wet and wild.

Precinct 13, by Tate Hallaway

Recent college grad Alex Conner is thrilled to have landed a job as the Hughes County coroner/medical examiner in Pierre, South Dakota. But when her first day on the job ends with a missing corpse, Alex starts to wonder if she would have been better off collecting unemployment…
When the cops made some cryptic comments about being careful with the body they brought in, Alex just thought the boys in blue were messing with her. That is, until something freaky happens that no amount of med school could have prepared her for. By the time Alex gets herself together, the body has disappeared and the other residents of the morgue start talking her ear off.
After working up the courage to report the missing body, Alex is transferred to the mysterious Precinct 13 where she discovers that her new co-workers—including a cute technomage named Jack—are paranormals just like her. Now, Alex is being encouraged to use her ability to speak to the dead to solve crimes. And despite being in the middle of nowhere, Hughes County sure does have a lot of paranormal activity…

Riever’s Heart (Guardians of Light), by Renee Wildes

The warrior in her was ready for anything. But she never saw him coming…

Guardians of Light, Book 5

Verdeen is on the brink becoming an elite warrior ranger until the ultimate humiliation—no war mare chooses her for advanced training. King Loren’s consolation prize isn’t much better. Journey to the Isle of Ice as bodyguard to a human riever. Daq Aryk. Barbarian. Prince of thieves.

Aryk dreams the impossible: unite six fractious clans into a peaceful nation. Failure means they are all doomed to kill each other off—and the nightmares of his son’s death by sword will come true. The new elven ambassador rouses his ire, not because she’s female, but because she’s inexperienced. Her possibly needless death weighs on his already overburdened soul. Her beauty is a distraction he can’t afford.

In a fragrant, moonlit garden, Verdeen dares yield to an irresistible compulsion to kiss the mortal riever. The heat shakes her to the core, and frees a desire that should occur but once in her life. With a mate.

As their quest twists down ever more dangerous paths, though, their bond is the asset that could assure peace…or the liability that could send a dream down in flames.

Warning: Contains hot, no-holds-barred sex, voyeurism, light spanking and some self-loving. Also betrayal and some graphic (but never gratuitous) battle violence.

 Shadowlands (Mirror Lands), by Violette Malan

The long-awaited sequel to Violette Malan’s acclaimed debut novel, The Mirror Prince.
The war in the Land of the Faerie has finally ended. Prince Cassandra dispatches Stormwolf, formerly a Hound but cured by his prince’s magic and restored to the Rider he once was, to the Shadowlands to call home the People who remain refugees there. But Stormwolf finds the Hounds of the Wild Hunt now prey upon the souls of the humans, draining them of the magic which is the very lifeblood of the People. With the help of Valory Martin, a mortal psychic, Stormwolf must find the magic needed to defeat the Hunt before it’s too late.

Stygian’s Honor (Breeds), by Lora Leigh

Window Rock, Arizona, is the last known location of Honor Roberts, who vanished when she was just thirteen. It was her only sanctuary from the Breed research that would surely have ended in her death—one such insidious experiment should, indeed, have killed her. That she lived is both a miracle—and a great mystery.
Stygian’s mission is to find Honor Roberts, no matter the cost. Now, with the help of Liza Johnson, assistant to the chief of the Navajo Nation, he is closer than ever to his goal. But will the discovery of Honor Roberts mean the destruction of the mating heat that has developed between Stygian and Liza?

Two Weeks’ Notice (Revivalist, Book 2), by Rachel Caine

In  New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine’s “thrilling”* Revivalist series, Bryn Davis finds out that making a living can be rough if you’re already dead…

After dying and being revived with the experimental drug Returne, Bryn Davis is theoretically free to live her unlife—with regular doses to keep her going. But Bryn knows that the government has every intention of keeping a tight lid on Pharmadene’s life-altering discovery, no matter the cost.

Thankfully, some things have changed for the better; her job at the rechristened Davis Funeral Home is keeping her busy and her fragile romance with Patrick McCallister is blossoming—thanks in part to their combined efforts in forming a support group for Returne addicts. But when some of the group members suddenly disappear, Bryn wonders if the government is methodically removing a threat to their security, or if some unknown enemy has decided to run the zombies into the ground…

Wilder: The Chosen Ones, by Christina Dodd

Only beloved author Christina Dodd could bring you the explosive paranormal excitement of the Chosen Ones combined with Aleksandr Wilder’s story … and redemption…
As a young man, Aleksandr Wilder abandoned his duty–and for that lapse, he was tortured, tormented … and transformed.  Now he prowls the tunnels beneath the city, fighting on the frontline against the forces of hell, never daring to dream that he can live as a man again.

After seven years fighting the world’s ultimate evil, Chosen One Charisma Fangorn has become a tough, strong warrior without illusions or joy…even her gift of hearing the earthsong has faded.  Deaf to her own instincts, she never suspects that a monster lurks in the dark underneath the streets.

When Aleksandr finds Charisma under attack, he rescues and cares for her, and hope stirs once more in his heart…and in the world. But in the secret recesses of his soul, he knows the truth. A woman so exceptional could never love a beast…could she?
    Customers who like books by Christine Feehan and J. R. Ward will enjoy this story.

A Wolf at the Door: A Jesse James Dawson Novel, by K. A. Stewart

STAR STRUCK Jesse James Dawson was once an ordinary man until he discovered that demons were real, and fighting them meant putting his own soul on the line. His new case is a beauty: Gretchen Keene, a Hollywood starlet who’s become an unwitting catalyst in an all-out demon war. It’s not her soul Jesse needs to protect, but the two-hundred-and-seventy-six others she’s carting around–all the souls sold to spend just one night with the blonde bombshell. That’s a lot of baggage, although it might explain her meteoric rise to fame. And it’s all up for grabs by the demon world. All Jesse has to do is keep her safe until New Years. Sounds easy.  But darkness is casting a nasty shadow in the California sun–a new unseen enemy is closing in and leaving Jesse to wonder, how do you fight something you can’t see coming?

Auracle, by Gina Rosati

Trapped outside her body, Anna sees and hears but cannot touch the one she longs to hold.

Anna has a secret: she can astrally project out of her body. But when there’s an accident and her classmate Taylor gets into Anna’s body, what was an exhilarating gift threatens to become a terrifying reality. Anna and her best friend Rei form a plan to set things right, but they don’t anticipate the feelings that are beginning to grow between them. Auracle by Gina Rosati is an exciting, sensual novel that explores the relationship between body and soul and the power of a single touch.

Beautiful Lies, by Jessica Warman

Rachel and Alice are an extremely rare kind of identical twins-so identical that even their aunt and uncle, whom they’ve lived with since their parents passed away, can’t tell them apart. But the sisters are connected in a way that goes well beyond their surfaces: when one experiences pain, the other exhibits the exact same signs of distress. So when one twin mysteriously disappears, the other immediately knows something is wrong-especially when she starts experiencing serious physical traumas, despite the fact that nobody has touched her. As the search commences to find her sister, the twin left behind must rely on their intense bond to uncover the truth. But is there anyone around her she can trust, when everyone could be a suspect? And ultimately, can she even trust herself? Master storyteller Jessica Warman will keep readers guessing when everything they see-and everything they are told-suddenly becomes unreliable in this page-turning literary thriller.

Blood Ninja III: The Betrayal of the Living, by Nick Lake

The fate of feudal Japan hangs in the balance in this bloody conclusion to the epic trilogy.

Taro is at a crossroads: He has vanquished Lord Oda for good, but with no land and no title, he has no hope of marrying Hana, the daughter of a daimyo. So when Taro receives news of a murderous dragon and the large reward for killing it, he and his friends find themselves on a dangerous quest to slay the beast.

Their mission has the potential to save the people of Japan—but failure will result in the deaths of thousands. And dragons are not the only monsters they will encounter: The dead, led by the odious Kenji Kira, have begun to rise, and they have Taro in their sights.

In this heart-stopping conclusion to the Blood Ninja trilogy, the future of all feudal Japan is in danger, and everything Taro holds dear will be threatened. But it is the betrayal of flesh and blood—his own flesh and blood—that may be his ultimate undoing.

Courtship and Curses, by Marissa Doyle

Sophie’s entrance into London society isn’t what she thought it would be: Mama isn’t there to guide her, Papa is buried in his work fighting Napoleon, and Sophie’s newly acquired limp keeps her from dancing at any of those glittering balls. If it weren’t for her shopping escapades with her new French friend Amélie and a flirtation with the dashing Lord Woodbridge, she would think this season a complete disaster.

But when someone uses magic to attack Papa the night of Sophie’s first ball, her problems escalate, especially when it becomes clear that all the members of the War Cabinet are being targeted. Can she catch the culprit and keep her own magic powers hidden long enough to win herself a match?

Girl of Nightmares (Anna Dressed in Blood), by Kendare Blake

It’s been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can’t move on.
His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they’re right, but in Cas’s eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he’s seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong…these aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor.

Rift: A Nightshade Novel, by Andrea Cremer

Chronicling the rise of the Keepers, this is the stunning prequel to Andrea Cremer’s internationally bestselling Nightshade trilogy!
Sixteen-year-old Ember Morrow is promised to a group called Conatus after one of their healers saves her mother’s life. Once she arrives, Ember finds joy in wielding swords, learning magic, and fighting the encroaching darkness loose in the world. She also finds herself falling in love with her mentor, the dashing, brooding, and powerful Barrow Hess. When the knights realize Eira, one of their leaders, is dabbling in dark magic, Ember and Barrow must choose whether to follow Eira into the nether realm or to pledge their lives to destroying her and her kind.
With action, adventure, magic, and tantalizing sensuality, this book is as fast-paced and breathtaking as the Nightshade novels.

Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Wake (Watersong Novels), by Amanda Hocking

Fall under the spell of Wake—the first book in an achingly beautiful new series by celebrated author Amanda Hocking—and lose yourself to the Watersong.

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They’re the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone’s attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs.  She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door.  He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back.  Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever.  She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove.  They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price.  And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

Anastasia Forever: Dreaming Anastasia Series, by Joy Preble

Is it possible to change the past?

Anastasia

No one ever knew what happened to her except her half–brother, Viktor—and he’ll do anything to keep it that way.

Anne

She just wants a normal boyfriend, a normal family–no visions of the past, no evil mermaids, no Brotherhood trying to kill her. But Anne is not normal…and she’s capable of a lot more than she thinks.

Ethan

He’s been eighteen for nearly a century, and finding Anne is the best thing that’s ever happened to him. But the magic in his blood is turning darker, forcing him to wonder whether he’s the most dangerous threat of all…

Blood Fever: The Watchers, by Veronica Wolff

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME—EVEN IF HOME IS WHERE THE DEAD LIVE…

It’s the start of the fall semester, and a new crop of Acari and Trainees have descended on the Isle of Night. Watcher training has intensified, and Drew has a new roommate named Mei-Ling. But Mei-Ling harbors a dangerous secret that drove the vampires to abduct her against her will. Drew knows she shouldn’t get involved, but she can’t seem to leave her roommate to fend for herself.

Luckily, Drew has other things on her mind—like vampire Carden. A blood bond to a brawny, eighteenth-century Scottish bad boy tends to preoccupy a girl. And though she’s still figuring out what this bond means, one thing has become clear: She craves him in a major way.

But then bodies start turning up on the island. All the evidence points to the existence of a rogue vampire, and the sinister vampire Alcántara is gunning for Carden, even though Drew has proof that Carden had nothing to do with the murders. Now she has to find the true killer—without endangering Carden, Mei-Ling, or herself…

Glitch (Glitch Trilogy), by Heather Anastasiu

In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.

In Heather Anastasiu’s action-packed debut, Glitch begins an exciting new young adult trilogy.

Rivals and Retribution: A 13 to Life Novel, by Shannon Delany

In Rivals and Retribution, the fifth book in the 13 to Life series by Shannon Delany, Pietr and Jessie will find themselves caught in a pack war with a new breed of werewolves.

Jessie Gillmansen is in trouble again and she’s in for the fight of her life–and Pietr’s! With Marlaena’s dangerous wolf pack putting more pressure on the Rusakova family, change is inevitable and when it comes, it brings a heavy price that forces Alexi into action to save his youngest brother’s heart, head, and life. In the stunning conclusion of this celebrated paranormal series two werewolf families fight for control of the small town of Junction, control of each other and–most elusive of all–control of themselves.

All descriptions from amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

Book News, Books, News

Excerpt: Anna Dressed in Blood

It’s new book excerpt time! This book has captured the hears of some well-known YA authors, including Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, who have tweeted about their love for it. Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake is set to release on Augutst 30th, and we have brought you an excerpt from chapter one. See what all the hype is about below!

***

Chapter One

The grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway—no pun intended.

So is the loose and faded leather coat, though not as much that as the sideburns. And the way he keeps nodding and flicking his Zippo open and closed in rhythm with his head. He belongs in a chorus line of dancing Jets and Sharks.

Then again, I have an eye for these things. I know what to look for, because I’ve seen just about every variety of spook and spectre you can imagine. The hitchhiker haunts a stretch of winding North Carolina road, bordered by unpainted split-rail fences and a whole lot of nothing. Unsuspecting drivers probably pick him up out of boredom, thinking he’s just some college kid who reads too much Kerouac.

“My gal, she’s waiting for me,” he says now in an excited voice, like he’s going to see her the minute we crest the next hill. He taps the lighter hard on the dash, twice, and I glance over to make sure he hasn’t left a ding in the panel. This isn’t my car. And I’ve suffered through eight weeks of lawn work for Mr. Dean, the retired army colonel who lives down the block, just so I could borrow it. For a seventy year old man he’s got the straightest back I’ve ever seen. If I had more time, I could’ve spent a summer listening to interesting stories about Vietnam. Instead I cleared shrubs and tilled an eight by ten plot for new rosebushes while he watched me with a surly eye, making sure his baby would be safe with this seventeen year old kid in an old Rolling Stones t-shirt and his mother’s gardening gloves.

To tell the truth, knowing what I was going to use the car for, I felt a little guilty. It’s a dusk blue 1969 Camaro Rally Sport, mint condition. Drives smooth as silk and growls around curves. I can’t believe he let me take it, yard work or no. But thank god he did, because without it I would have been sunk. It was something the hitchhiker would go for—something worth the trouble of crawling out of the ground.

“She must be pretty nice,” I say without much interest.

“Yeah, man, yeah,” he says and, for the hundredth time since I picked him up five miles ago, I wonder how anyone could possibly not know that he’s dead. He sounds like a James Dean movie. And then there’s the smell. Not quite rotten but definitely mossy, hanging around him like a fog. How has anyone mistaken him for the living? How has anyone kept him in the car for the ten miles it takes to get to the Lowren’s Bridge, where he inevitably grabs the wheel and takes both car and driver into the river? Most likely they were creeped out by his dress and his voice, and by the smell of bones, that smell they seem to know even though they’ve probably never smelled it. But by then it’s always too late. They’d made the decision to pick up a hitchhiker, and they weren’t about to let themselves be scared into going back on it. They rationalized their fears away. People shouldn’t do that.

In the passenger seat, the hitchhiker is still talking in this faraway voice about his girl back home, somebody named Lisa, and how she’s got the shiniest blonde hair and the prettiest red smile, and how they’re going to run off and get married as soon as he gets back hitching from Florida. He was working part of a summer down there for his uncle at a car dealership: the best opportunity to save up for their wedding, even if it did mean they wouldn’t see each other for months.

“It must’ve been hard, being away from home so long,” I say, and there’s actually a little bit of pity in my voice. “But I’m sure she’ll be glad to see you.”

“Yeah, man. That’s what I’m talking about. I’ve got everything we need, right in my jacket pocket. We’ll get married and move out to the coast. I’ve got a pal out there, Robby. We can stay with him until I get a job working on cars.”

“Sure,” I say. The hitchhiker has this sadly optimistic look on his face, lit up by the moon and the glowing dashlights. He never saw Robby, of course. He never saw his girl Lisa, either. Because two miles up the road in the summer of 1970, he got into a car, probably a lot like this one. And he told whoever was driving that he had a way to start an entire life in his coat pocket.

The locals say that they beat him up pretty good by the bridge and then dragged him back into the trees, where they stabbed him a couple of times and then cut his throat. They pushed his body down an embankment and into one of the tributary streams. That’s where a farmer found it, nearly six months later, wound around with vines, the jaw hanging open in surprise, like he still couldn’t believe that he was stuck there.

And now he doesn’t know that he’s stuck here. None of them ever seem to know. Right now the hitchhiker is whistling and bobbing along to non-existent music. He probably still hears whatever they were playing the night they killed him.

He’s perfectly pleasant. A nice guy to ride with. But when we get to that bridge, he’ll be as angry and ugly as anyone you’ve ever seen. It’s reported that his ghost, dubbed unoriginally as the County 12 Hiker, has killed at least a dozen people and injured another eight. But I can’t really blame him. He never made it home to see his girl, and now he doesn’t want anyone else to get home either.

We pass mile marker twenty-three—the bridge is less than two minutes away. I’ve driven this road almost every night since we moved here in the hopes that I would catch his thumb in my headlights, but I had no luck. Not until I got behind the wheel of this Rally Sport. Before this it was just half a summer of the same damn road, the same damn blade tucked under my leg. I hate it when it’s like that, like some kind of horribly extended fishing trip. But I don’t give up on them. They always come around in the end.

I let my foot ease up on the gas.

“Something wrong, friend?” he asks me.

I shake my head. “Only that this isn’t my car, and I don’t have the cash to fix it if you decide to try to take me off the bridge.”

The hitchhiker laughs, just a little too loudly to be normal. “I think you’ve been drinking or something tonight, pal. Maybe you ought to just let me off here.”

I realize too late that I shouldn’t have said that. I can’t let him out. It’d be my luck that he’d step out and disappear. I’m going to have to kill him while the car is moving or I’ll have to do this all over again, and I doubt that Mr. Dean is willing to let the car go for too many more nights. Besides, I’m moving to Thunder Bay in three days.

There’s also the thought that I’m doing this to this poor bastard all over again. But that thought is fleeting. He’s already dead.

I try to keep the speedometer over fifty—too fast for him to really consider jumping out, but with ghosts you can never be sure. I’ll have to work fast.

It’s when I reach down to take my blade out from under my leg that I see the silhouette of the bridge in the moonlight. Right on cue, the hitchhiker grabs the wheel and yanks it to the left. I try to jerk it back right and slam my foot on the brake. I hear the sound of angry rubber on asphalt and out of the corner of my eye I can see that the hitchhiker’s face is gone. No more easy Joe, no slicked hair and eager smile. He’s just a mask of rotten skin and bare, black holes, with teeth like dull stones. It looks like he’s grinning, but it might just be the effect of his lips peeling off.

Even as the car is fishtailing and trying to stop, I don’t have any flashes of my life before my eyes. What would that even be like? A highlight reel of murdered ghosts. Instead I see a series of quick, ordered images of my dead body: one with the steering wheel through my chest, another with my head gone as the rest of me hangs out the missing window.

A tree comes up out of nowhere, aimed right for my driver’s side door. I don’t have time to swear, just to jerk the wheel and hit the gas, and the tree is behind me. What I don’t want to do is make it to the bridge. The car is all over the shoulder and the bridge doesn’t have one. It’s narrow, and wooden, and outdated.

“It’s not so bad, being dead,” the hitchhiker says to me, clawing at my arm, trying to get me off the wheel.

“What about the smell?” I hiss. Through all of this I haven’t lost my grip on my knife handle. Don’t ask me how; my wrist feels like the bones are going to separate in about ten seconds, and I’ve been pulled off of my seat so that I’m hovering over the stick shift. I throw the car into neutral with my hip (should have done that earlier) and pull my blade out fast.

What happens next is kind of a surprise: the skin comes back onto the hitchhiker’s face, and the green comes back into his eyes. He’s just a kid, staring at my knife. I get the car back under control and hit the brakes.

The jolt from the stop makes him blink. He looks at me.

“I worked all summer for this money,” he says softly. “My girl will kill me if I lose it.”

My heart is pounding from the effort of controlling the lurching car. I don’t want to say anything. I just want to get it over with. But instead I hear my voice.

“Your girl will forgive you. I promise.” The knife, my father’s athame, is light in my hand.

“I don’t want to do this again,” the hitchhiker whispers.

“This is the last time,” I say, and then I strike, drawing the blade across his throat, opening a yawning black line. The hitchhiker’s fingers come up to his neck. They try to press the skin back together, but something as dark and thick as oil floods out of the wound and covers him, bleeding not only down over his vintage-era jacket but also up over his face and eyes, into his hair. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t seem to be touching the car’s upholstery. The hitchhiker doesn’t scream as he shrivels, but maybe he can’t: his throat was cut and the black fluid has worked its way into his mouth. In less than a minute he’s gone, leaving not a trace behind.

I pass my hand over the seat. It’s dry. Then I get out of the car and do a walk-around as best I can in the dark, looking for scratches. The tire tread is still smoking and melted. I can hear Mr. Dean’s teeth grinding. I’m leaving town in three days, and now I’ll be spending at least one of them putting on a new set of Goodyears. Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn’t take the car back until the new tires are on.

Anna Dressed in Blood © Kendare Blake 2011

[via Tor]